Mich. becomes right-to-work state despite protests

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - In just six days, Republicans have converted the organized labor fortress of Michigan into the 24th right-to-work state.

The state House swiftly approved two bills reducing unions' strength Tuesday and Gov. Rick Snyder signed them into law, brushing aside protests from Democrats and thousands of pro-union demonstrators. The laws prohibit requiring nonunion workers to pay fees to unions for negotiating contracts and other services.

Supporters say they give workers freedom of association and will bring more jobs to Michigan. Opponents say they'll depress wages and weaken the union movement.

The Senate also introduced and passed the bills last week.

Crowds formed before dawn Tuesday and packed the state Capitol in a vain attempt to stop the bills. Union leaders say they'll now focus on defeating supporters in the 2014 election.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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